PLM Interest Group














PLM User Communities

Voice of the User


At present, there is no "Voice of PLM".  Neither is there any kind of considered, common thought about the state of PLM, or how it could be improved.  PLM headlines each year are limited to trade events, vendor product announcements, and the occasional case study.

The Pathfinder Meeting in Belgium included a debate about this, with a discussion stream about the user perception of life as a PLM customer.  This issue turns out to be much more complicated than it first appears.


There are some long-standing dissatisfactions amongst users about what their vendors offer, and the way they engage - but users themselves must show a level of expertise and diligence to balance their side of the equation.


There needs to be a dialogue - an open discussion about what works, and what does not; and the about how vendors could better serve their customers for the benefit of everyone.


PLM User Communities

User Viewpoint




This theme has been around in the wider world for at least a decade.  Similar views could be found at a PLMIG User Forum event in 2008, where one multinational electronics conglomerate asked:-



"Where could we as 'customers' together drive the vendors to support us in a better way?"


This is one of the surprising features of this problem.  The perception amongst smaller users is that everything is arranged to suit the biggest customers - but even a car company that is bigger than Boeing can feel powerless to influence what the vendors do.

This is why it would be constructive for PLM users to come together in an organised way, to present a clear and coherent message that vendors can respond to.



Many of the issues will be familiar to every user, and go well beyond outright cost of purchase.

Pricing models reduce flexibility and remove the user's discretion about the pace of upgrades.  Lock-in to a vendor development path can force customers into implementation areas they may wish to avoid. Complexity is bundled in and inescapable, creating difficulties for occasional users and forcing the purchase of unnecessary functionality.  Customisation is always necessary for real business situations.  Vendors may phase out old functionality that a customer has come to rely on.

Most damaging of all, the total purchase structure may mean that a user company does not do some necessary PLM tasks because they cost too much.  In other words, the comprehensive PLM solution that the customer buys is too expensive to do PLM with.


PLM User Communities

Vendor Viewpoint


The Pathfinder Meeting also showed that this is a two-way street, and that users must take some responsibility on themselves.

There are some things that a vendor is just not in a position to do.  They can only know as much of your business as they are shown, which may not be much if they are kept at arm's length during a selection process.  Vendors want to create an accurate proposal, but users may feel that any discovery exercise will lead to a quotation with extended boundaries.

Also, vendors can only advise from their own viewpoint.  It is not reasonable to expect a vendor to understand, let alone propose, a PLM configuration that is not in line with the software that they offer.

Vendors can also find that users are not of the right calibre to implement PLM properly.  The best PLM software in the world is useless if the user makes mistakes and prevaricates when applying it.  Users need to be able to fend for themselves as they scope, purchase, implement and maintain their PLM solution.


PLM User Communities


Creating a Dialogue


To generate a collective User Voice, there first needs to be a collection of user voices that talk to each other.

Initially this will come from the User Forum workshops, where this issue will be on the Agenda.

As the workshop series continues, the ideas of the participants are likely to coalesce into a coherent point of view that a wider audience can respond to.  The scope of this dialogue can be worldwide.  The aim is to achieve consensus, and also change that will be for the benefit of everyone involved in PLM.

Whatever your PLM role, or whatever part of the PLM industry you represent, you can let us know your views about this via .

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